With hundreds of movies to his credit, Roger Corman is one of the most prolific producers in the history of the film medium and one of the most successful. Corman has been dubbed, among other things, "The King of the Cult Film" and "The Pope of Pop Cinema" and his filmography is packed with hundreds of remarkably entertaining films in addition to dozens of genuine cult classics. Corman has displayed an unrivaled eye for talent over the years and his influence on modern American cinema is almost incalculable. Born April 5, 1926, in Detroit, Michigan. Corman studied engineering at Stanford University but while in school, he began to lose interest in the profession and developed a growing passion for film. After a term spent studying modern English literature at England's Oxford University and a year spent bopping around Europe, Corman returned to the US, intent on becoming a screenwriter/producer. He sold his first script in 1953, "The House in the Sea," which was eventually filmed and released as Highway Dragnet (1954).
Horrified by the disconnect between his vision for the project and the film that eventually emerged, Corman took his salary from the picture, scraped together a little capital and set himself up as a producer, turning out Monster from the Ocean Floor (1954). Corman leveraged his next picture, The Fast and the Furious (1954), into a multi-picture deal with a fledgling company called American Releasing Corp. (ARC). It would soon change its name to American-International Pictures (AIP) and with Corman as its major talent behind the camera, would become one of the most successful independent studios in cinema history. With no formal training, Corman first took to the director's chair with Five Guns West (1955) and over the next 15 years directed 53 films, mostly for AIP. He proved himself a master of quick, inexpensive productions, turning out several movies as director and/or producer in each of those years--nine movies in 1957, and nine again in 1958. His personal speed record was set with The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), which he shot in two days and a night.
During the 1960s Corman directed eight lavish gothic horror films based on the stories of including House of Usher (1960), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), The Raven (1963), The Haunted Palace (1963), and The Masque of the Red Death (1964). All but one of the Poe films starred Vincent Price, and these films featured such other established actors as Boris Karloff, Ray Milland, and Peter Lorre.
In 1970 Corman left AIP and formed New World Pictures, an independent company that produced and distributed the work of such young artists as John Sayles, Martin Scorsese, Joe Dante, Jonathan Demme, and James Cameron.
An occasional actor, Corman typically appeared in the films of those whose careers he had helped. He had minor roles in Coppola’s The Godfather: Part II (1974) and in such Demme films as Philadelphia (1993), The Manchurian Candidate (2004), and Rachel Getting Married (2008). Other notable films included Apollo 13 (1995). Corman cowrote (with Jim Jerome) an autobiography, the aptly titled How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime (1971). In 2009 he was given an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement. Two years later he was the subject of the documentary Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel.
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